Spain’s Balearic Islands on Monday banned the killing of bulls in corridas in a decision
While not prohibiting bullfighting outright, the regional parliament of the Spanish archipelago voted an animal protection law banning the use of “sharp implements that can injure and/or kill the bull” in the ring, effectively outlawing the slaughter of the animal.
The law also limits to three the number of animals that bullfighters can spar with, for a maximum duration of ten minutes per bull.
It also forces bullfighters and animals to take anti-doping tests before and after the corrida, and only allows people aged 18 and above to watch.
The Balearic Islands are not the only region to have banned or restricted bullfighting as an increasing number of Spaniards discard it as a cruel event.
But the measures have always come up against stiff resistance from supporters who see the tradition as an integral part of Spanish culture.
Last October, Spain’s Constitutional Court cancelled a bullfighting ban in the northeastern region of Catalonia.
It argued that bullfighting was classified as part of Spain’s heritage, and therefore a decision on banning it was a matter for the central government and not for semi-autonomous regions.
The Balearic Islands’ decision attempts to circumvent this ruling.
“A cross-party group of politicians got creative to effectively ensure that the torture of bulls for public entertainment is relegated to the annals of history on the Balearic Islands,” said Joanna Swabe of global animal rights group Humane Society International.
“This vote shows that a full ban is not strictly necessary to end the practice of bullfighting, and that compassion can win the day where there is strong public and political will to end animal cruelty.”
But opponents of the law, such as Spain’s ruling Popular Party (PP), say the ruling is still illegal and could be challenged in the courts.
Miquel Jerez, PP spokesman in the regional parliament, said it was just another way to ban bullfighting by “distorting its essential characteristics in order to render the show unrecognisable.”
The only other Spanish region to have successfully banned bullfighting is the Canary Islands, and Castile and Leon in Spain’s northwest abolished the killing of bulls at town festivals last year.
Several cities have also put a stop to corridas or annual festivals with bull running over the years.
But other traditions continue to take place, such as placing flammable balls on the horns of bulls, setting them on fire and letting the animals loose in the street.